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Proposed NFL rule change could put Microsoft Surface front and center on replays

Why it matters to you

You could see Microsoft Surface tablets a lot more in NFL games, visibility that may swing public sentiment towards the product line.

One of Microsoft’s most visible marketing initiatives for its Surface Pro line of Windows 10 2-in-1s has been a partnership with the NFL. Every year, iconic blue Surface Pro machines are featured on the sideline and in the replay booth at NFL games.

The relationship has been a bit rocky at times, with the likes of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick publicly complaining about the machine’s performance. The marketers at Microsoft might be getting a huge break next season, however, as NFL officials are considering a rule change that would greatly benefit the promotional effort, USA Today reports.

The proposed rule change involves how replays and controversial rulings by officials are handled. Today, a referee uses a hooded video monitor on the sideline to replay a questionable call. If the rule change passes, then a tablet will be used on the field instead, which will be used in consultation with the NFL’s New York office.

Of course, the tablet that would be used for reviewing plays would be the same Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablets that are used by coaches and other team staff. Every time a play is reviewed, then, that blue case with the prominent Surface logo would potentially be flashed on the screen — and perhaps commentators will have something good to say about the machines.

Such a move, while likely coincidental to Microsoft’s partnership with the NFL — or perhaps not, as USA Today asserts, given how the NFL likes to leverage its promotional agreements — would go a long way toward helping Microsoft reap more benefits from its marketing investment. Just maybe, commentators would start using the Surface name when referring to the tablets rather than calling them iPads.

In any event, the proposed rule changes for the 2017-18 NFL season will go in front of league owners next week. Microsoft’s​ marketing team will be holding its breath in the meantime, hoping that its Surface Pro 4 machines will gain significantly more exposure. The company will have to hope that the officials get those controversial calls right, or fans could associate the Surface with their team losing football games.